Estrellas de Areito
In 1979, an all-star cast was assembled in Havana for what would become a legendary recording session. Under the direction of trombone player Juan Pablo Torres, more than thirty musicians -- young and old -- were brought together to jam on classic Cuban songs. New arrangements were written and musicians were encouraged to improvise in a loose, but competitive atmosphere. It was the last brilliant performance for trumpeter Felix Chappotin, as well as for singers Tito Gomez and Felix Chappottin. Every cut recorded over those five days features phenomenal solo and ensemble work that stretches ten minutes or longer. Pianist Ruben Gonzalez sparkles while young lions Paquito D'Rivera (on saxophone) and Arturo Sandoval (on trumpet) strut their stuff. Percussion and drumming is incendiary, particularly that of conga demigod Tata Guines. Add flute, electric bass, more vocalists, four trombones and as many violins, and you have a genuine jam session. Originally released as five LPs in West Africa and France, these recordings were largely ignored in Cuba. Recorded at a time when commercial concerns were unimportant, the sheer joy of playing music shines through in the magic heard here, as created live at Havana's famed Egrem studios.